Some interesting names appear on the nominations lists for the five Virginia-bred/Virginia-sired stakes slated to run at Laurel on Saturday, among them a recent graded stakes winner and a couple of defending champs.

With Colonial Downs not having run this year, the races, all of which are on the turf, appear popular.  All of the races have drawn at least 31 nominations, with the 5 1/2 furlong Oakley, for older fillies and mares, having attracted 43.

Among the top contenders:

  • The top three finishers from last year’s Oakley — Lion Down by Me, Heaven Knows What, and Happy Face — are all nominated to try the race again Saturday;
  • The top three finishers from the Punch Line, for three-year-olds and up going 5 1/2 furlongs, also has attracted its top three finishers from a year ago.  Those are Boltin’ Out, Jake Rattle N Roll, and Available.  Avarice, who won the Fort Delaware on the main track in July, also is a nominee.
  • Nominees to the Bert Allen for three-year-olds and up at 1 1/16 miles also include the top three finishers from last year’s heat: Dannhauser, Powder Mountain, and Virginia Cavalier.  Perhaps the most interesting name on this list, though, is that of Hard Enough, who won the Grade 3 Red Bank in May at Monmouth but has changed hands via the claimbox twice since, most recently snapped up by trainer Mike Trombetta for owner Larry Johnson for $25,000 at Saratoga.
  • Leda’s Swan, second in the Brookmeade for older fillies and mares going 1 1/16 miles a year ago, returns to try to grab the top spot this year.  But among her rivals could be Dahlia winner Embarr, dropping from graded company, and Maryland Racing Media winner Ilikecandy.

All five races, including the Jamestown for two-year-olds, carry a $60,000 purse.  Entries come out on Wednesday.